Today is Easter Sunday and what a beautiful morning it is. When you think about an Easter weekend, you think about weather like we’ve had over the past few days. But is that what it’s all about? Is it about the weather? Is it about flowers blooming and a relaxing Sunday afternoon with the family? Is it about Easter candy and hiding eggs?
It’s unfortunate, but sometimes we lose focus of what Easter is all about. I’ve entitled today’s message: ‘It’s All About God’s Love.’
Many years ago, a man by the name of Fredrick Lehman wrote a song he entitled – “The Love of God.” Here is the last stanza:
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
If the whole ocean was turned into ink and the entire sky became a blank sheet of paper, it would not be enough to describe the love of God. Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15:13) The greatest description of love is when someone is willing to give their life for another individual.
I recently heard a story about a little boy whose younger sister was very sick and needed blood. The older brother’s blood was a perfect match and so it was decided to collect blood from him to help her. Though he was only six, he laid on the white sheet perfectly still and allowed the nurses to put the needle in his arm. The nurse was impressed with such maturity at such a young age, yet she could tell that he seemed a little nervous. “Are you OK?”, she asked. “Yes ma’am”, he replied. “Do you need anything?” “No ma’am.” Then a few minutes later, in a quite little voice, he asked – “How long until I die?” He thought that taking blood from him to give to his sister would mean that he would die, yet he was willing to do so out of love.
It’s easy to understand the love of a brother for his sister, or a man for his family. But consider the love of God –
Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
I. Who Jesus Died For?
vs. 6 … Christ died for the ungodly.
vs. 8 … Christ died for us.
A. Christ died for the ungodly
Romans 5:6 … Christ died for the ungodly.
‘Ungodly’ seems like such a strong term, but literally it means to be without a proper view of God and His worth. To be ungodly is to fail to honor and worship God with the glory He is due. Christ died for the ungodly.
What does it mean – ‘Christ died for them?’ It means that Christ He gave His life as a sacrifice for their sins.
The Bible says – Romans 3:23 ‘For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.’ To sin means to miss the mark of God’s standard of perfection. We learn in Romans 6:23 ‘The wages of sin is death…’ We read also in Hebrews 9:27 ‘Appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment’
According to Revelation 20:11-15 – there is a coming day of judgment when men will have to give an account to God for the lives they have lived. Everyman will be judged according to his works.
To say that Christ died for us means that He in His own body, the wrath of God against our sins. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV ‘For God made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us…’
II. When Did Jesus Die for Us?
A. Jesus Died on a Roman Cross
We know that 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ died on a Roman cross. We are not sure who first introduced crucifixion to the world, but by the time of Christ, the Romans had developed it into an extremely cruel form of torture and capital punishment. It is estimated that the Romans killed thousands upon thousands by crucifixion. We know that at least two criminal were crucified also on the day Jesus died.
Someone have said that crucifixion was a “slow death of maximum suffering.” It was one of the most disgraceful and cruel methods of execution ever known to man and it was usually reserved only for slaves, foreigners, revolutionaries, and the vilest of criminals. It was so brutal that it was against Roman law for a Roman citizen to be crucified.
Normally a flogging or whipping preceded the crucifixion. During the flogging, the victim’s back would be torn to shreds with a whip called ‘The Cat-o-Nine Tales.’ The Cat-o-Nine Tales was a whip made of several strips of leather. Woven into the end of each strip of leather was glass, bone and pieces of sharp metal in order to lacerate the victim’s back. After the flogging, the victim was then made to carry his own cross to the place of his execution.
In Jerusalem, men were often crucified at a place called ‘Golgotha.’ Golgotha is Aramaic and is sometimes found in scripture as the word ‘Calvary’ which is Greek. Both names means ‘skull’ and so it was called – ‘the place of the skull.’ There the victim was attached to his cross with ropes and and large spikes, 5″ to 7″ long, that were then driven through each wrist and through both feet as they were crossed. It is recorded that a crucifixion would last a minimum of several hours and sometimes several days. The normal length of time was 36 hours.
The cause of their death included intense blood loss from the scourging, trauma, inflammation, fever, exposure to the sun as the victim was often stripped naked, thirst, and finally asphyxiation. To hasten death, the Romans would sometimes break the legs of the victims so that they could no long push up with their legs in order to take in oxygen. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia reports – “The victim of crucifixion literally died a thousand deaths.”
B. In due time
Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Scripture says that ‘in due time’, Christ died for us. Christ’s death was not an accident or an unfortunate situation. It was according to God’s perfect plan. Let me suggest two reasons why God crucified His Son, 2,000 years ago.
1. In due time – ‘in the day of crucifixion’
We know that the Romans hated the cross and even more so did the Jews. To take the body of someone who has been executed and to publicly put it on display has long been a way of disgracing them. According to the Law Moses, it was illegal to leave such a body hanging overnight. (Deut 21) Yet God the Father purposefully had His Son crucified. We read in Galatians 3:10 … Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. ‘Cursed’ means to be destined for destruction. That was the punishment you and I deserve for our many sins. But we read in Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Christ was crucified in order to bear our sins and our shame.
2. When it was evident that we were unable to save ourselves
The Bible says, ‘when we were without strength … Christ died for the ungodly.’ ‘Without strength’ means powerless to save ourselves. If the Jews, who had the Law of Moses and the strict practice of the Pharisees, were unable to save themselves by their religious practices, no man can. Jesus told those of His day – Matthew 5:20 ‘That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.’
III. Why Did Jesus Died For Us?
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth (demonstrated) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Christ died to demonstrate God’s love for us. Though an ocean full of ink and sky made of paper wouldn’t be enough to fully declare God’s love, Christ dying for the ungodly did.
Today, on a day called Easter, we celebrate that love. We celebrate that Jesus died for our sins so that we can be forgiven. We celebrate that although His dead body laid in the grave for three days, on the third day He arose again, proving that He had power over sin and death. We celebrate that Jesus ascended back to the Father and is now seat at His right hand, making intercession for us. We celebrate that one day, He’s coming again in the clouds of glory to take us to heaven. We celebrate that because He lives, we shall live also.